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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

THE END                                    337

dispensing herbs to people of the city. A number of friends were
usually with him, and they planned their trips or outings together.
His movements would become known, and when they arrived at their
chosen destination, he would be confronted with a pile of silks and
paper with requests for him to write poems on them. Su Tungpo
responded cheerfully, for he loved writing. Only when the day was
getting late and he had to hurry home would he ask to write a flew
big characters, and all those who came with such requests returned
well rewarded and satisfied.

By May i he arrived at Nanking. He had written his faithful friend
Chien Shihshiung to look for a house for him in the city of Chang-
chow. But the letters he wrote during that half year show that his mind
was really undecided. Tseyu had by this time returned to his old farm
at Yingchang and had sent a letter urging him to come and live with
him. Su Tungpo did not know what to think. He knew he would
enjoy the landscape of Changchow in the lake district, where besides
he had a farm in the country, which would be a means of support. He
equally desired to live with his brother, but he had a big family now
and Tseyu was living in reduced circumstances. He was not quite sure
that he should bring along "three hundred fingers"—that is, about
thirty persons of his family and children's families and servants—and
impose them on his brother. But after receiving the letter, he decided
to go and live as his brother's neighbour. He crossed the river at
Nanking and told Mai and Tai to go down to Changchow to clear up
family affairs and meet him at Yichen. He actually wrote to ask for
four boats to take his large family up north in the direction of the
capital.

However, the Empress Dowager had died in January of that year,
and this was May. All evidences pointed to another reversal of policy.
Su Tungpo judged that there might be trouble again, and he did not
want to live too near the capital. He wrote a long, sad letter to Tseyu
blaming their inability to meet now on God's will. "What can I do
against God's will?" That being the case, he would do the natural
thing, which was to settle at Changchow. • After his family was settled,
he would ask Mai to go on to a new post, but he and his two younger
sons would live at the farm in the lake district.

Meanwhile, waiting at Yichen for his children to meet him, Su
Tungpo lived in a boat on the river. The summer had come suddenly
and it was an unusually hot year. He was surprised that upon return-
ing from the tropics he should have felt the heat so much in middle
China. The sun beating down upon the water near the bank caused the
humid air to rise from the river and made it very miserable for him.
On June 3, he developed what could have been amoebic dysentery. He